Years after their crimes were first reported, both Ghislaine Maxwell and R. Kelly has each been sentenced to prison, sending a powerful message to perpetrators of abuse: what’s done in darkness WILL be brought to light because the voices of survivors will be heard. In both of these well-publicized cases, the rich and powerful subjected their victims to sickening abuse and attempted to hide behind their veil of fortune and fame. For a long time, it worked. But survivors and their families refused to remain silent. These verdicts have shown the world that true strength lies in the power of victims’ voices.
While the conclusions of these cases are clear victories for survivors everywhere, the sentencings are also a somber reminder that horrific abuse is perpetrated in plain sight every single day. Sadly, due to imbalances of power, fear of not being believed, shame, guilt, trauma bonds, and many other factors, 75% of child sexual abuse victims do not disclose that they are being abused for at least a year; 45% of kids keep their abuse a secret for at least five years, and many never tell. It’s up to adults to teach kids about personal safety and how to access help from safe adults if they ever need to. It’s also critical for adults to educate themselves about the signs of abuse and the signs of unsafe grooming behaviors.
The brave survivors in the Ghislaine Maxwell and R. Kelly cases bared their trauma and spoke truth to extreme power in the name of justice. Their bravery not only helped protect future victims from these criminal abusers, but also brought public awareness to the issues of abuse and trafficking.
For far too long, our society has looked the other way – dismissing the signs, failing to believe victims and survivors – creating a culture where the heinous actions of individuals like Maxwell and Kelly were overlooked, even allowed. But with every publicized trial and every guilty verdict helping to shatter stigma and change collective understanding, survivors are creating change.
Here at Lauren’s Kids, we know that 95% of child sexual abuse is preventable through awareness and education. This is our “why.” This is why we work 365 days a year educating students, teachers, families, and communities on how to keep kids safe from harm. Because together, we CAN create a future where every child knows that “it’s OK to tell.”
Through our Lauren’s Kids Safer, Smarter Schools, and Safer, Smarter Kids curriculum, we focus on having conversations in the classroom and continuing in the dining room to keep kids safe from harm. We cannot continue to look the other way. The time has come to work together to create a world that protects childhood at all costs.
Visit https://laurenskids.org/contact/ to get involved today!